Official: N.J. train speed estimated well over limit
HOBOKEN, N.J. — Federal investigators estimate a commuter train was traveling two to three times the 10 mph speed limit when it slammed into a New Jersey rail station last week, a U.S. official said Tuesday.
The official, who was briefed on the investigation, said investigators estimated the train was moving between 20 and 30 mph when it crashed into Hoboken Terminal on Thursday. The official was not authorized to speak about an ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The speed estimate is based on the extent of damage and not on data from the train’s instruments.
Federal investigators recovered a data recorder, video recorder and the engineer’s cellphone from the front car of the train Tuesday and sent them to an agency lab for analysis.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator James Southworth said they don’t yet know if the recorders contain any useful information.
Access to the devices had been hampered by debris from the crash.
Southworth said it would be at least a day before investigators are able to move the crashed train. He said New Jersey Transit service into and out of Hoboken wouldn’t resume before then.
A second data recorder, in the locomotive at the rear of the train, wasn’t func- tioning the day of the crash and didn’t record speed, braking or other information about the trip, the NTSB has said.
That recorder was built in 1995. The recorder recovered Tuesday was made in 2003, investigators said.
Engineer Thomas Gallagher’s cellphone was found in a backpack in the cab of the front train car.
At a briefing Tuesday, the NTSB’s Southworth declined to address the train’s speed. “We’re not prepared to make that statement right now,” he said.
One woman standing on a platform was killed by debris as the train smashed through a concrete-andsteel bumper and knocked out pillars, causing a section of the station’s outdoor roof to collapse. More than 100 people were injured.
Gallagher told investigators that he had no memory of the crash but said he was operating at 10 mph as he approached the station, said T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, the vice chair of the National Transportation Safety Board. NTSB investigator Michael Hiller recovers a data recorder from the train that crashed last week.